Puff puff … pass: Richie Spice leaves Kisumu on a high

International Reggae Artist Richie Spice performs during a concert at Mamboleo Showground in Kisumu on May 28,2023. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group.

The much-anticipated performance by international reggae superstar Richie Spice lived up to the expectations of Kisumu residents who thronged the Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium, Mamboleo, on Sunday night.

Thousands of reggae fans streamed into the venue from 2pm when the gates were opened, eager for an electrifying experience.

They got the memo right, donning khaki suits, boots and turbans, both solid and multi-coloured to capture the reggae vibe.

The fans waved flags in both the reggae and Kenyan colours.

Prior to his performance, local artistes curtain-raised for the international musician.

International Reggae Artist Richie Spice performs during a concert at Mamboleo Showground in Kisumu on May 28,2023. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group.

Crowd went wild

And when the man of the hour arrived, the crowd jumped up and down, shouting out some of his songs.

Richie Spice, born Richell Bonner, took to the stage at 1am, dressed in a denim shirt, black trousers and black suede boots, complemented by a black turban covering his long dreadlocks.

He treated the crowd to his famous hits such as “Brown Skin”, “Gideon Boots”, “Earth a Run Red”, “Youth dem Cold”, “The World is a Cycle” and “Grooving My Girl” as the enthusiastic fans clapped and danced along.

His set lasted for about an hour before he left the stage to mingle with some of the guests and residents before retiring to the Sarova Imperial Hotel.

Some of the local artistes, although excited about the guest artistes, were disappointed that they were not given a chance to perform with Richie Spice or to open for him. One of them, Black Angel, got the chance.

Career boost

For local artiste Stanley Otieno, popularly known as Apesi Mnyama Mkali, sharing a platform with Richie Spice would have been a huge boost to his career.

“The organisers insisted that I perform after Richie, which is not possible because he was the guest artiste and out of respect and professionalism I could not perform after him. I was ready to grace the stage earlier with my band and showcase my talent and the local culture but unfortunately, I never got the opportunity," said Apesi.

The reggae artiste expressed his excitement when he landed at Kisumu International Airport at 10.30am aboard a Jambo Jet aircraft.

He was received by Roots Party leader George Wajackoyah, Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's wife Dorothy Nyong'o, Deputy Governor Mathew Owili, former Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa and Suba South MP and Orange Democratic Movement Party leader John Mbadi.

At the airport, he danced to Ohangla tunes as he was greeted by traditional dancers.

During the day, he brought Kisumu to a standstill as his convoy wound its way from the City Hall to the Jomo Kenyatta International Sports Centre, Mamboleo.

International Reggae Artist Richie Spice performs during a concert at Mamboleo Showground in Kisumu on May 28,2023. 

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega | Nation Media Group.

Wajackoyah's moment of fame

He drew crowds along the busy Kisumu-Kakamega Road and the presence of Prof Wajackoyah in his vehicle further excited Kisumu residents who demanded that the party leader address them.

At around 11am, the musician made his way to the stadium for a microphone check before he was taken on a tour of the town.

"I'm happy and excited to be here. I love the energy and am looking forward to a great show and experience," said Richie Spice.

Prof Wajackoyah used the international reggae musician's tour in Kisumu to revive his push for the legalisation of bhang.

According to Prof Wajackoyah, fish in Jamaica is tasty because marijuana is grown on the Caribbean island and some of it is thrown into the ocean for the fish to feed on.

Speaking at a press briefing at the county assembly after
"When I started this weed revolution, I was considered a mad man, yet here I am at the age of 63 with my 14th degree and two PhDs, but slowly this is being embraced by many countries that are economic powerhouses. Even countries like Israel are powerful because a lot of their products, including weapons, are made from bhang fibre," said Prof Wajackoyah.

The county government, in partnership with Ziva Empire, used the opportunity to showcase the best of its culture and promote tourism.

The musician paid a courtesy call on the Kisumu County Assembly and participated in tree planting as part of the county's greening initiative to combat climate change.

He then took a tour of the lake from Kisumu Port to Dunga Hill Camp, where many fans took photos with him.

By bringing people together to enjoy live reggae music and entertainment, the concert fosters a sense of togetherness and shared experience, which is an important factor in promoting tourism and attracting visitors.

The visit by Richie Spice included a tour of the world's second largest freshwater lake, Lake Victoria, and a taste of local Luo cuisine, including tilapia fish, a plate of ugali and local vegetables.